Goodbye Chicago

Yesterday we picked up Kayana from O’Hare and today we are all flying out together. But I wanted to write one more post before we move along to Florida …

I always feel like our trips disappear into memory so fast. What is it about life that passes? How does anticipation become history with hardly a moment given to now? I don’t know if it’s my age or if time really is passing by faster these days, but it reminds me to be purposeful and grateful. Along that theme I want to list 20 things about our time in Chicago that made my life more blessed:

  • good health – All stayed fairly healthy! We have been gone over 2 weeks and are still traveling. Yes we’ve had a few tummy aches and need an antibiotic but nothing major.
  • good friends – Seeing the Carey family during our annual summers in Chicago is such a treat! So glad we can stay close (and our kiddos too).
  • my parents – They always generously put us us at their house while we’re in town. This allows us to spend so much more time together with family.
  • pets – Okay. My parents have stinkin’ cute pets! I love watching them grow and giving them all the hugs while we’re in town.
  • the color green – Everything here is SO green!!! I love living in Arizona but the color shift is really quite awesome.
  • time – The fact that I have time to travel with the kids over the summer is such a blessing and I don’t take it for granted.
  • cell phones – Staying in touch with Daddy (he couldn’t come to the Chicago portion of our trip) was wonderful and keeping up with AZ friends made my heart happy too.
  • feeling loved – There is something about going “home” that makes you feel loved, and appreciated. At least I feel that way and I enjoy it so much.
  • grocery stores – Can we talk about all the grocery stores in Chicago? The options are endless. Since I love to cook I really enjoy poking around and discovering new things.
  • internet connection – I know some people like to disappear on a desert island when they go away, but I love my internet access and the ability to watch my favorite shows, map out new places to go and put the kids to be with headspace.
  • coffee – Do I even need to explain this? I mean, I love coffee all the time but I don’t always get a full 8 hours when we travel. So coffee tastes even better.
  • memories – Being with family is so much about reliving memories with other people who were there. You feel understood, validated and sometimes learn about things you never knew happened… to add to your memories.
  • blogging – I have love love loved blogging this vacation. It’s actually amazing to look back so far and see all the things I’ve forgotten. Not amazing in a good way… but mom brain is not always a reliable working brain. So I’m super grateful for this blog.
  • super comfy bed – The bed in the room I stay in at my parents is like a cloud. I always look forward to sleeping there, and cuddling with all the kitty’s who visit me on the bed.
  • access to a car – my parents always let me use one of their cars when we visit. It is so gracious of them and I admit to loving to pop out once in a while.
  • cozymels restaurant – when we lived here Cozymels was my favorite Mexican restaurants. It hold so many happy memories of dinners with friends & family, important conversations and banana pudding.
  • family recipes – one of my very favorite things about going to my parents’ house is raising my mom’s cookbook stash to copy out some childhood favorites. I’ll post some for you soon.
  • our three girls – so grateful for our three girls who are the best little travelers. I honestly could not travel nearly as much if they didn’t obey and make good choices.
  • travel – It is such a blessing to travel. To be able to visit family. To visit friends. Space Camp. Now Disney. I have so much gratitude for that.
  • personal freedom – Last but not least I do not take for granted my personal freedom. I can go where I want. But what I want. Return when I please. Life was not always like this while we were in school for the first 15 years of our marriage, and I don’t take this blessing for granted.

So thanks Chicago, until next time! We have enjoyed our stay and look forward to returning (probably in the winter).

Mosquito Bites & Russian Blues

If you are a native of the desert, you may be completely unfamiliar with the small creature who lives in humid hot regions and drinks human blood – leaving behind an itchy, swollen welt. But I assure you they do exist. These villains are often referred to as mosquitos but they really deserve a far worse name. I’m including a photo of my foot so you can see my swollen ankle, which was bitten by one of these dreadful mosquitos. They also bit my wrist, calf and finger and I was only outside for an hour in the middle of the day. Makes you appreciate the desert!

Oh and yes, we are still away from home in Chicago although our visit here is almost over. 😭 It has been so much fun seeing family and watching the girls play with cousins. I am grateful we can come visit and do life together often enough that everyone is good friends. I always felt that family helped me feel grounded, as we shared stories from the past. But that sense of security is also the strongest bridge to the future as we make choices and grow. We are better together. Always.

It’s 12:55 am so “technically” today is Friday, although it still feels like Thursday night. Reepicheep, my parents Russian Blue kitty is curled up on my bed purring away like a motor boat. He’s looking at me like “go to bed crazy human” so I probably should. I’m trying to turn over a new leaf and sleep 8 hours a night (but maybe this part of my summer travels isn’t the time for resolutions). Here’s my bed buddy…

Tomorrow our nanny is flying into town to help me take the kiddos to Florida for a week. I’m SUPER excited to see her and the kids are too. They think of her as a big sister and we all love her lots. Until later!

Where Did Today Even Go?

I was FULLY intending to tell you about something brilliant tonight, but instead I’m admitting to being just another exhausted mom. Why?

  • Last night I was woken up around 1 by Claudia because she wanted to sleep with me. About 2 she woke me up again to tell me she was going back to her bed.
  • Madeline climbed into my bed about 3 because she saw a long flying bug and wondered if it would sting her. (I think she dreamed it.) She then poked me every 15 minutes or so to see if I was asleep. I always was. About 4:30 she went back to bed.
  • At 9 I had the kids ready to go to breakfast with my parents, brother & his family (but they canceled due to being up all night). I totally understood that one! But since we were ready, we went to breakfast anyway.
  • About 11 we went to look for new sneakers for Beatrice who now needed to wear women’s size EIGHT! We wear the same size shoe. Found two pairs on a BOGO sale at Famous Footwear.
  • Took Madeline over to TJMax to use the potty and then got suckered into staying there until 1 looking at things like sleep masks for the girls. Honestly, I’m for anything that might keep them in beds.
  • Then home for lunch, stopping to get Diet Coke along the way because – caffeine!
  • Made lunch for kiddos from leftovers and relaxed for a few minutes (really, just a few minutes).
  • It was now 2:30 ish and my parents cleaning lady arrived so I quickly cleared off the bed & closed suitcases in my room and checked the girls room as well.
  • Took Kimber (my parents Akita) to the vet together with my mom. Kimber needed a cytopoint injection for allergies. (The girls stayed home with grandpa while we did this.)
  • Got home about 4 and we needed to meet my brother & his family for taco Tuesday since we had missed breakfast with them. Planned to meet at 5 so we had about 30 minutes. I genuinely have no recollection of what I did during that time. None.
  • Got in the car and headed to Cozymels. After being there for about 15 minutes Claudia said she was sick. Then she started crying. I took a look at her and she had a fever. Ugh. She was begging to go home. My mom took her out and I got a mango & strawberry frozen margarita.
  • As we were finishing dinner at about 6:30 Claudia and my mom returned. Claudia said she was feeling better. She wanted dinner. So we got dessert and she got dinner. We were driving home about 7:30.
  • While driving home (I was in my dad’s car with Madeline & Claudia) Mom called and asked if they could go out looking for earrings for Beatrice. She said she needed some. No. Just no. I didn’t think tonight was a good night for an earring emergency.
  • About 8 we all got home and by 9 the girls were snug in their beds asleep after stories and songs. Well, kinda. Claudia begged to sleep with me since she actually wasn’t feeling very well. I really really wanted to say no, but I said sure and gave her a hug.

By 10 pm I very much hope to be in my bed SNORING, but honestly I also want to watch a little bit of a show and pretend I’m an adult with at least a tiny life of my own. Not sure which one will win out. Hugs mommas! Our job is far from easy and I’m cheering you on!!!

All Happy Families are Alike…

… each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. This is known as the Anna Karenina Principle. By which Tolstoy meant: in order to be happy, a family must be successful with respect to every one of a range of criteria (religion, unity, monitary concerns, in-laws, and so many more). Failure on only one of these counts leads to unhappiness. So clearly there are more ways for a family to be unhappy than happy.

Today my sister and her kiddos came to my parents house to sleepover with us. She arrived at suppertime and my brother and his family joined in too. Of course that meant I had to get a picture because were not usually together these days. I’m so grateful for this picture of US… each captured perfectly imperfectly. I’m truly blessed that we don’t measure each other by criteria, instead love each other through the fun and messy parts of life. There may be lots of ways to be unhappy, but we try to ignore them!

My sister and her husband live in downtown Chicago. My brother and his family live in the western suburbs of Chicago; my parents do as well. And as you know we live in Arizona. And it’s not just physical distance that separates us, life just gets more complicated as you grow older. More responsibilities. More personal goals and interests. Children. But my brother and sister will always be so important to my heart, because siblings are the people we first practice on. They teach us about kindness and compassion and working together and being fair… quite often the hard way. But I am who I am today largely because of what we learned together growing up. And so I love going back “home” to reconnect and learn more about this thing called life. Together.

Also I should note that this morning I headed to the spa to get a mani-pedi. It had been tooooooo long. Plus, I was still sporting my bright red/orange from spring season and I needed to change to white. I don’t know what it is about white nailpolish this year but it is basically an updated, trendier version of the French manicure. And I am certainly NOT the one who told you this, but the Urban Dictionary has an interesting definition of white nail polish as well. 🤫 Or most likely these days the white nail polish women are actually joining together in #solidarity. Against what, I do not know. But who cares ladies, get in white nail formation.

I also FINALLY did laundry (as in washed, folded and put away – big deal right?!) since we have been out of town for seven whole days. The kids will be so happy in the morning when they say “mom, where are my clean undies” and I actually know! 😉

Sombrero Full of Cheese and Bugs

Today was family time! Woke up at 10 am and trust me that was not enough sleep. But it was most certainly morning. The kids were just waking up and my Dad was making eggs. My mom stumbled into my room and we both looked like we were hit by a truck… and dragged for miles. 😵 #wishiwaskidding While dad gave the kids breakfast we ran to Target to get some things we needed since TOMORROW is Claudia’s birthday and we would be having company all day.

Now there is no Target in my town so sometimes when I get to go, I lose track of time. I have no idea why women love Target so much, but we all do. By the time I got birthday decorations, a present, stopped to look at pens and planner, bought a card, found an abdominal exerciser, and a cake… it was 2.5 hours later. Oh course I got more things like goggles, a purse and stickers, etc. but everyone does that right?!

When we got back to my parents house my sister was there with her three kids and everyone was in the pool. My dad had made BBQ hotdogs for lunch. I checked my email while sitting poolside and I had an email from our photographer – the girls pictures were ready!!! I’m so in love with the way she captured the spirit of each different one. Here are three favorites:

And it must have been photo day for me because our Family Space Camp photos started populating as well. But in that case there are THOUSANDS of photos to look through to pick out our pictures. So that’s a project and a half (which I’ll have to do on a day I’ve had more sleep). But here is my all time favorite picture because it shows my husband SO SO happy. He has wanted to go to Space Camp since he was 6 years old. Dreams do come true…

Had a pizza supper with my brother’s family and my sister’s family at my parents house. The cousins adored spending all day together. And I loved seeing everyone too. I love my family! Before everyone left my youngest and my brother’s oldest curled up with me in a big arm chair… and we made up silly songs together. I think we spent 15 minutes singing about a sombrero filled with cheese and bugs, stinky daddy armpits, wasps stinging and a top hat with dogs, kitties and a bunny tail inside. There were just so many laughs. I think I enjoyed that most of everything today.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, “Most people would succeed in small things if they were not troubled with great ambitions” and I think he was really speaking to me. As a mom I can get sidetracked into thinking I should change the world, win awards, be recognized, earn money myself, write a bestseller or be in Olympic athlete shape. But the truth is, my days are about small things. A million small things that carry eternal significance and power to direct lives. But I will only succeed in managing these many small things if I keep my eyes from distraction. Today I did that. I wasn’t going to win any prizes for best parenting and end up in a magazine cover. But I did imagine with 2 little 6 year olds and share laugh after laugh with their hearts. And I’m so glad I did.